By Lorie Palmer
Idaho County Free Press
After more than a year without a full-time superintendent, Mountain View School District 244’s board of trustees hired Todd Fiske in March.
Fiske assumed the position in July and has already gotten his feet wet with board meetings, negotiations and school reopening in the midst of COVID.
“Our family moved to Western Oregon, a little town called Scio, population 480, from California when I was in elementary school,” he said. It was there that his family operated a small sheep farm and where he would meet his future wife and graduate from high school.
Following high school, Fiske began college where he planned to study resort management. An opportunity took him out of school early and allowed him to move to Hawaii and work at a highend resort.
“I was a bellman – yeah, I basically carried people’s bags,” he laughed. But he also earned an advanced scuba diving certification and worked for one of the resort concessions. His wife, Julie, and he came upon another opportunity in 1990. “We bought, sight unseen, a mom and pop motel in Kalispell,” he said.
They owned the 20-room business for just more than a year when his mom’s words began to ring in his ears.
“She had expressed some disappointment in me not finishing college, and I kept hearing her say, ‘If you quit, you’ll never go back,’” he recalled. “It was those words that drove me.”
He attended Montana State University – Northern and obtained his elementary education degree. He went on to teach middle school health and physical education, as well as industrial arts. He later earned a master’s degree in educational leadership to become a K-12 principal, and obtained his certification as a superintendent, all at the University of Montana.
From there, he went on to work as principal and superintendent at West Valley, on the outskirts of Kalispell, for 12 years. Following this, and up until taking the MVSD job, Fiske served as superintendent, principal and executive director at Summit Preparatory School, a therapeutic boarding school, until the school closed, due in part to COVID.
“We lived in our home in rural Kalispell for 30 years, making it uniquely ours with a variety of projects,” he explained. “We were fairly surprised when it was on the market for nine hours and sold.” 4
Julie, a special education teacher in Kalispell in her 31st year of teaching, will stay in Kalispell for the 2020-21 school year prior to moving to Grangeville. The couple has a son, Alexander, 25, and daughter, Abigail, 22. Fiske said he looks forward to integrating into the community and building trust and relationships within the district, which encompasses schools in Kooskia, Elk City and Grangeville.
“I want to build a trust with people so that, even in the times they don’t agree with me, they will have enough trust that I am making the best decisions possible for the best reasons, that we can keep moving forward together,” he stated. However, he knows he cannot do it alone. “We will all have to put in some heavy lifting,” he emphasized.
Fiske can be reached at email@example.com.